Pamoja Initiative (2020)

In brief

Kenya based Pamoja Initiative is working on the following impact: for every new swimmer on board that would be a live saved.

The SOL Foundation assists with a girls’ empowerment swimming programme on the island of Lamu in Kenya, building up self-esteem and given the tools and information to make safe decisions around sexual and reproductive health.

Problem to be tackled

Whenever a boat capsizes around their beloved island of Lamu, it is almost a 100% guarantee that there will be no child or women survivors. As a predominantly Muslim community, the men and boys go out into the waters either to swim or to fish, however, the women remain in the households. Given that this is the only guaranteed mode of transport, water safety has been severely undervalued.

Local partner

Pamoja Initiative runs the project in Lamu County. The main activities are a) to offer affordable access to the swimming pool for women and children, b) to engage a full-time female lifeguard / coach, which has never been available and has served as a strong deterrent for women to learn swimming in the community and c) to conduct peer-to-peer training sessions around reproductive health and through swimming competitions.


This initiative seeks to use swimming as a tool to address women’s safety as there are growing concerns as women and children make up over 80% of the drowning case in Lamu, additionally swimming is used as a tool for empowerment of young girls in decision making around sexual and reproductive health. Lamu County in one of the 15 counties that contributes to over 60% of maternal mortality, highest numbers of early childhood marriage and female genital mutilation.

From SOL’s contribution, it will benefit young girls and women as well as women within the community who will have free access to the swimming pool five days a week; these target groups have been identified based on trending accident locations of ocean drowning and the presence of the swimming pool facility.

SOL’s contribution

With the support from The SOL Foundation, Pamoja Initiative will be able to continue to run and implement their swimming programme for the girls in the community with regular swimming classes in an adequate facility.

Project partner

The Pamoja Initiative‘s purpose is to foster a united Lamu County in the marginalised corners of Kenya. Pamoja Initiative achieves this by strengthening young women’s participation and self-esteem through swimming, by engaging boys and young men through sports to curb drug addiction and radicalisation, and lastly, by supporting cultural activities.